Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is used to help students maintain a positive mental attitude, regulate stress, and help sustain positive relationships with others. This therapy technique was developed, in the late 1980s, by Dr. Linehan of Seattle, Washington. It was originally developed for people that exhibit symptoms of self-destructive behavior. This collection of DBT worksheets will help students learn how to progress through each aspect of this form of behavioral therapy. We offer simple lessons that encourage students to share their own experiences and see if they can bring to words how this has helped them grow and get to better learn themselves. Over the course of all the worksheets we will investigate the four major tenets of DBT therapy which include being mindful of our existence and others, focusing our actions in a non-judgmental manner, understanding the nature of behaviors, and to approach things with dialectical thinking. The overall goal is for students to understand how their thoughts and actions affect their environment and the people with it.
Printable DBT Worksheets
Click the buttons to print each worksheet and answer key.
Deciding to Ask
If you aren't sure if you should ask for something, or how strongly you should ask, try this exercise. Consider each statement. For every statement that you agree with, place a check on the line.
Deciding to Say No
Having trouble saying no? This exercise will help you to evaluate the situation objectively in order to determine if no is an appropriate response.
Doing a chain analysis can help you to understand your behavior. It help you remedy the behavior of interest over time.
The Consequences of Problem Behavior
Describe a recent episode of problem behavior. What prompted the chain or events? What was going on around you before the chain of events that made you feel vulnerable? Describe the chain of events in details.
Understanding the Problem
Complete this worksheet to determine what kept you from doing what you needed, wanted, or agreed to do, or what was expected of you. Then use the information you uncover to solve the problem so you will be more likely to do the right thing next time.
Use observational skills to bring your attention back to the experience of being in your body. Fill out this chart as you go about your day, to keep your attention focused on the moment.
As we go through the day, we typically pass many judgements. We determine that something is good or bad, right or wrong, pleasant or unpleasant. Sometimes we get so involved in judging what is going on around us that we fail to actually fully experience it, since the act of judging something distorts it. Unfortunately, we also tend to believe our judgements, which can have profound affects on how we experience our lives.
Charting Thoughts Worksheet
Rather than latching onto your thoughts and allowing them to stir up your emotions, simply sit and observe your thoughts coming and going instead.
Practice Loving Kindness
Loving kindness is an aspect of mindfulness. Its purpose is to help us to feel love and compassion for ourselves, our loved ones, and even enemies and strangers. Practicing loving kindness is a way of keeping judgmental thoughts and negative feelings away. You can practice loving kindness by saying a prayer or sending positive vibes to yourself or others. You can also recite a mantra, a word or a phrase that embodies the loving kindness you have for yourself or others.
Complete the following to assess the success of your recent attempt to change your behavior. Remember that changing behavior typically requires reinforcing the desirable behavior.
When you validate someone's feelings, you show them that what they are feeling is both reasonable and understandable in a given situation. You do not have to agree with someone's feeling in order to validate them. Validation is a very important interpersonal skill. When you validate another's feelings, you are showing them that you are listening to them, that you respect and care about how they feel, and that you understand what they are saying to you.
Situational Validation Worksheet
Choose a situation that happened to you this past week in which you validated another person.
Describe It All
Choose a situation that happened to you this past week in which you validated yourself.
Dialectical thinking means recognizing that there is more than one point of view in every situation; nothing is black and white. In dialectics, the only constant is change.
The practice of mindfulness includes nine interconnected behaviors. Complete the chart below to determine if practicing mindfulness can help you in your daily life.
Describe a recent situation in which you practiced mindfulness. Let's put what we have learned into action.
What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?
The term "dialectical" emerges from the idea that there are two factors that must work together to reap better results. They are acceptance and change. So, essentially, dialectical behavioral therapy is a type of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) that aims to identify your negative patterns of thinking and then incorporates different techniques to push you for positive behavioral changes.
While it was initially intended to treat conditions such as borderline personality disorder, it now aims to teach people healthy coping strategies against stress, techniques to regulate emotions, and of course, ways to live in the moment.
The underlying premise is to help people adjust to a constant changing world and maintain a sense of quality value in yourself. DBT helps encourage students to realize their strengths and special attributes that are unique to them. The techniques that are used help students begin to analyze their own behavior and identify any patterns of destructive behavior that can affect yourself and others around you. You can start to do this by identifying behavior or thoughts that are not helpful in your daily routine to maintain a positive outlook. Reflecting upon ourselves we can often find strategies that work for us to accept and tolerate anything that may come our way and be better prepared for the world. Ultimately the goal is to learn how to effectively communicate with ourselves and others in our life.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Techniques
What is mindfulness? The ability to live in the moment is not something everyone is equally blessed with. And so, learning to pay attention to what is happening inside your mind and body and then tuning in to the events happening around you by using your senses are at the core of most mindfulness practices.
It teaches you to calm down, accept how you feel, and use the right tools to deal with your emotional pain. Furthermore, if achieved the right way, it can also do wonders to reduce your impulsive behavior.
As the name suggests, distress tolerance is all about gaining the skills to deal with the crisis at hand. Some of them include:
- Belief in improving the current moment
Identifying and naming your emotions can be a powerful strategy when it comes to improving emotional regulation. This is precisely what this intervention aims to achieve.
Being assertive in a relationship can be a challenge. Expressing your needs and having them met is surely a daunting task for those who struggle with interpersonal effectiveness. And so, DBT aims to address the very phenomenon so you can maintain a healthy bond with the people in your life.
What Else Can It Help With?
When CBT alone did not prove to be effective in treating those with borderline personality disorder, DBT emerged as an added intervention to meet the needs of those with diverse issues.
Hence, it has proved to be a valuable approach in dealing with several conditions such as:
- Bipolar disorder
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
- Non-suicidal self-injury
- Suicidal behavior
- Substance use disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Major depressive disorder
- Eating disorders
What Are the Benefits?
A huge part of the process involves offering validation in a healthy therapist and patient relationship. This way, the latter is less likely to get distressed and more likely to cooperate. However, there are different goals and structures attached to different therapeutic settings. In a nutshell, the therapist focuses on six key areas:
- Acceptance and change
- Behavioral modification
- Cognitive work
- Skill sets
How Effective Is It?
DBT has come a long way in helping people gain valuable coping skills in terms of managing and expressing strong emotions. Furthermore, it has also been deemed an effective approach regardless of a person's race, sex, age, gender identity, etc. Interestingly, it is also effective in treating disruptive mood dysregulation disorder in children.
Our Final Thoughts
In a nutshell, dialectical behavioral therapy is a groundbreaking treatment for several conditions among children and adults alike. Through its acceptance-oriented skills, the intervention has proved to be an asset to the world of medicine. However, the best way to determine whether it is right for you is by consulting a well-trained professional in the field.